Make Well-Informed Decisions About Architectural Services

By Benny L. Hawkins

You’ve probably seen a version of this “Good-Cheap-Fast” graphic a time or two over the years. All of us can relate to wanting great service delivered expeditiously for great fees.  While the trade-offs listed are served up with a bit of humor, when it comes to architectural design, valuing the least expensive option above all else may cost you more than you realize.

Cheap

There are those who have a structure designed and built as inexpensively as possible so they can sell it in a few years for a profit.  They tend to not be interested in durability and efficiency. What’s missing in that equation is that the initial cost of a building is usually only about 2/5 of its entire lifecycle cost.

Long-term considerations for owners should particularly include the durability and serviceability of the improvements and efficiency of energy use, among other things. When “cheap” is the ultimate goal of the design and construction of a building, an owner (and the occupants) will have a very challenging total lifetime experience because of short-sighted decision-making during design.

Fast

To say that thoroughness during design is a necessity, is an understatement! When you’re making a significant investment in a structure that will impact lives potentially for decades to come, do you want it done fast or do you want it done well? There are repercussions that come from hasty, under-researched decisions, such as not fully identifying and providing design solutions that adequately meet needs of anticipated noise levels, heavy loads on floors, the extent of fresh air needed for health protection, adequate lighting for satisfactory visual and security needs, and so forth.

Owners can be tempted to accelerate through the early design phases to save time. Without a very thorough understanding of needs and how the building is going to be used and by whom, the design program will be flawed, contaminate every stage of project delivery, and irreparably deprive users of ultimate enjoyment thereafter. The information gathered through charrettes, specific meetings and interviews enables optimal communication that gives architects the opportunity to collect everything relevant to the project so that the owner’s needs can be well understood and addressed.

Good

Good design doesn’t automatically equal unaffordable fees.  The question might be: Can the owner afford not to receive good design?  A well-designed project can be achieved within an owner’s budget through a collaborative design process enabled by the architect’s training and insight. Architects remain cognizant of many things that can affect a client’s project – from inflation and the cost of gas vs. electric utility bills, to industry data on the best type of roof, wood frame or masonry walls, and HVAC systems.

Marrying the short- and long-term goals for the structure (based on the planning processes mentioned earlier) with creative solutions based on an architect’s design know-how will do much to produce a quality project that falls within the owner’s timeline, budget and quality needs.

Well-Informed Decisions

BLGY has always valued long-term, repeat-hire relationships.  Some of our clients have been with us for 50 years.  Appreciation of our repeat hires reinforces our realization that we can’t be shortsighted about our service or our craft. Anything that is designed in a very short period of time, and with insufficient forethought and professional care, will ultimately reveal itself as such.

We want our clients to be equipped with everything they need to make well-informed decisions and will do our best to spare them from the “save a little now but pay dearly later” trauma. They tend to appreciate that and hire us again because what we designed for them held up well instead of being a nightmare to operate and maintain.

2 Comments

  • Alexandria Martinez / March 7, 2018
    Reply

    I liked the insight that you gave on paying for a good job and not being cheap about it. This is important if you want something of a higher caliber. My fiance might like hearing this piece of advice as he looks more deeply into architectural services.

  • Larry Weaver / July 3, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks for explaining that marrying the short-and long-term goals of a structure will produce a quality project. My dad is looking to construct a building where he will locate his new business. Since he plans for his company to last, I’ll recommend that he works with an architectural design service to get the best results.

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